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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 6

Of Simulation And Dissimulation.
1 DIssimulation is but a faint kind of Policy, or Wisdome; For it asketh a strong Wit, and a strong Heart, to know, when to tell Truth, and to doe it. Therfore it is the weaker Sort of Politicks, that are the great Dissemblers.
2 Tacitus saith; Liuia sorted well, with the Arts of her Husband, & Dissimulation of her Sonne: Attributing Arts or Policy to Augustus, and Dissimulation to Tiberius. And againe, when Mucianus Encourageth Vespasian, to take Arms against Vitellius, he saith; We rise not, against the Piercing Iudgment of Augustus, nor the Extreme Caution or Closenesse of Tiberius. These Properties     of Arts or Policy, and Dissimulation or Closenesse, are indeed Habits and Faculties, seuerall, and to be distinguished. For if a Man, haue that Penetration of Iudgment, as he can discerne, what Things are to be laid open, and what to be secretted, and what to be shewed at Halfe lights, and to whom, and when, ( which indeed are Arts of State, and Arts of Life, as Tacitus well calleth them ) to him, A Habit of Dissimulation, is a Hinderance, and a Poorenesse. But if a Man cannot obtaine to that Iudgment, then it is left to him, generally, to be Close, and a Dissembler. For where a Man cannot choose, or vary in Particulars, there it is good to take the safest and wariest Way in generall; Like the Going softly by one that cannot well see. Certainly the ablest Men, that euer were, haue had all an Opennesse, and Francknesse of dealing; And a name of Certainty, and Veracity; But then they were like Horses, well mannaged; For they could tell passing well, when to stop, or turne: And at such times, when they thought the Case indeed, required Dissimulation, if then they vsed it, it came to passe, that the former Opinion, spred abroad of their good Faith, and Clearnesse of dealing, made them almost Inuisible.
3 There be three degrees, of this Hiding, and Vailing of a Mans Selfe. The first Closenesse, Reseruation, and Secrecy; when a Man leaueth himselfe without Obseruation, or without Hold to be taken, what he is. The second Dissimulation, in the Negatiue; when a man lets fall Signes, and Arguments, that he is not, that he is. And the third Simulation, in the Affirmatiue; when a Man industriously, and expressely, faigns, and pretends to be, that he is not.
4 For the first of these, Secrecy: It is indeed, the Vertue of a Confessour; And assuredly, the Secret Man, heareth many Confessions; For who will open himselfe, to a Blab or a Babler? But if a man be thought Secret, it inuiteth Discouerie; As the more Close Aire, sucketh in the more Open: And as in Confession, the Reuealing is not for worldly vse, but for the Ease of a Mans Heart, so Secret Men come to Knowledge of Many Things, in that kinde; while Men rather discharge their Mindes, then impart their Mindes. In few words, Mysteries are due to Secrecy. Besides ( to say Truth ) Nakednesse is vncomely, as well in Minde, as Body; and it addeth no small Reuerence, to Mens Manners, and Actions, if they be not altogether Open. As for Talkers and Futile Persons, they are commonly Vaine, and Credulous withall. For He that talketh, what he knoweth, will also talke, what he knoweth not. Therfore set it downe; That an Habit of Secrecy, is both Politick, and Morall. And in this Part, it is good, that a Mans Face, giue his Tongue, leaue to Speake. For the Discouery, of a Mans Selfe, by the Tracts of his Countenance, is a great Weaknesse, and Betraying; By how much, it is many times, more marked and beleeued, then a Mans words.
5 For the Second, which is Dissimulation. It followeth many times vpon Secrecy, by a necessity: So that, he that will be Secret, must be a Dissembler, in some degree. For Men are too cunning, to suffer a Man, to keepe an indifferent carriage, betweene both, and to be Secret, without Swaying the Ballance, on either side. They will so beset a man with Questions, and draw him on, and picke it out of him, that without an absurd Silence, he must shew an Inclination, one way; Or if he doe not, they will gather as much by his Silence, as by his Speech. As for Equiuocations, or Oraculous Speeches, they cannot hold out long. So that no man can be secret, except he giue himselfe a little Scope of Dissimulation; which is, as it were, but the Skirts or Traine of Secrecy.
6 But for the third Degree, which is Simulation, and false Profession; That I hold more culpable, and lesse politicke; except it be in great and rare Matters. And therefore a generall Custome of Simulation ( which is this last Degree ) is a Vice, rising, either of a naturall Falsenesse, or Fearefulnesse; Or of a Minde, that hath some maine Faults; which because a man must needs disguise, it maketh him practise Simulation, in other things, lest his Hand should be out of vre.
7 The great Aduantages of Simulation and Dissimulation are three. First to lay asleepe Opposition, and to Surprize. For where a Mans Intentions, are published, it is an Alarum, to call vp, all that are against them. The second is, to reserue to a Mans Selfe, a faire Retreat: For if a man engage himselfe, by a manifest Declaration, he must goe through, or take a Fall. The third is, the better to discouer the Minde of another. For to him that opens himselfe, Men will hardly shew themselues aduerse; but will ( faire ) let him goe on, and turne their Freedome of Speech, to Freedome of thought. And therefore, it is a good shrewd Prouerbe of the Spaniard; Tell a lye, and finde a Troth. As if there were no way of Discouery, but by Simulation. There be also three Disaduantages, to set it euen. The first, That Simulation and Dissimulation, commonly carry with them, a Shew of Fearfulnesse, which in any Businesse, doth spoile the Feathers, of round flying vp to the Mark. The second, that it pusleth and perplexeth the Conceits of many; that perhaps would otherwise co-operate with him; and makes a Man walke, almost alone, to his owne Ends. The third, and greatest is, that it depriueth a Man, of one, of the most principall Instruments for Action; which is Trust and Beleefe. The best Composition, and Temperature is, to haue Opennesse in Fame and Opinion; Secrecy in Habit; Dissimulation in seasonable vse; And a Power to faigne, if there be no Remedy.

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